Detroit Red Wings doing all they can to fight COVID-19: ‘The life we live in right now’

Detroit Free Press

Helene St. James
| Detroit Free Press

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As the Detroit Red Wings prepare for the 2021 season, a look around the NHL shows just how tenuous it will be.

Already the pandemic has forced the Dallas Stars to delay the start of their season after six players and two staff members tested positive for COVID-19, the NHL has announced. On Saturday, the NHL reported that the Pittsburgh Penguins canceled practice and a scrimmage out of “an abundance of caution” over COVID-19 concerns.

As much as the Wings are focused on training camp, the pandemic is never far from their minds.

“I know in our locker room guys are doing a great job trying to be as safe as possible away from the rink,” Dylan Larkin said. “With us being tested as much as we are, you are just trying to take care of yourself away from the rink so that when you are at the rink, you are not going to put yourself or anyone else at risk.

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“You can do all that, but unfortunately in the world we live in, and the uncertainty of this virus, sometimes it’s not enough. You have to be ready. It’s going to be a strange year.”

Because they were part of last summer’s playoff bubble, the Stars and Penguins started their training camps Jan. 3. The Wings have been underway since Dec. 31, first taking to the ice on New Year’s Day.

“Anytime we’re not working out or not on the ice, we have masks on,” Luke Glendening said. “When we come in we get our temperature checked and tested every day. It’s always with a mask and social distancing as best we can.”


Why Dylan Larkin is encouraged about Red Wings’ 2021 season

Dylan Larkin interview, Jan. 9, 2021.

Helene St. James, Detroit Free Press

Every attempt has been made to ensure a secure environment (all media interviews, for example, are conducted via Zoom), but players realize how precarious it will be to play even a 56-game schedule.

“It’s going to be hard,” Anthony Mantha said. “You never know where you can catch COVID. But we are a week away from the start of the season, so for me personally, I’m trying to stay away from anyone that could have been in contact, if it’s at their work, or whatever. You’re just trying to make the details not to catch anything. Obviously if it gets in the room, it spreads super quickly. Probably that’s what happened in Dallas.

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“It’s the life we live in right now and we’re going to have to live with it for this season. I know it’s going to be hard, but, it’s going to be a lot of sacrifice from players and staff and anyone around the team.”

The Wings play their first four games at home before heading out on the road. Usually that’s a time for bonding with teammates over dinners at nice restaurants. Not so this season.

“From what I understand, we are going to be pretty confined to our hotel,” Larkin said. “There won’t be much outside contact. From what I’ve heard, it’s going to be all meals at hotel. You can go for a walk with a mask, which is OK. We are willing to do that because we want to play. Our guys are really committed to wearing a mask and doing all the right things to make sure we are not jeopardizing ourselves or teammates.”

A week into camp, coach Jeff Blashill has used the term “unfit” when asked about players who have not been practicing, a group that includes Bobby Ryan, Robby Fabbri, Darren Helm and Evgeny Svechnikov. That’s what the NHL and NHLPA wants teams to say. That, however, will change when the regular season begins Wednesday, at which point the league will require teams to disclose when a player has tested positive for COVID-19.

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“These are different times,” Blashill said. “There are multiple things at plays. You have your regular injuries and you have your COVID concerns. We are going to have to roll with the punches. There might be times when the schedule changes. There might be times where guys that are supposed to be in the lineup all of a sudden aren’t in the lineup on the same day that you’re playing a game. We have to be ready to handle whatever comes our way.”

Per NHL guidelines, a player who tests positive has to follow quarantine guidelines in accordance with local health regulations.

Contact Helene St. James at Follow her on Twitter @helenestjames. Read more on the Detroit Red Wings and sign up for our Red Wings newsletter. Her book, The Big 50: The Detroit Red Wings is available from AmazonBarnes & Noble and Triumph Books. Personalized copies available via her e-mail. 


Red Wings’ Luke Glendening on playing in a pandemic

Luke Glendening interview, Jan. 9, 2021.

Helene St. James, Detroit Free Press

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